14 May 2016
By Doug Jenness
For the past 12 years many volunteers (more than 300 in some recent years) have been spending the second Saturday of May counting birds as part of the North American Migration Count (NAMC). This survey, organized on a county basis, has given us a “snapshot” of the progress and “shape” of spring migration in the state. And we've had a great deal of fun doing it. This year we are modifying our count. It has become increasingly apparent that only a few states have been participating in the NAMC and there has been no national coordination. But we now have a new opportunity to build on what we have accomplished in Arizona and make our statewide count part of a broader national, even international, effort. This is the launching of the annual Global Big Day by eBird last year. Saturday 14 May will be the Big Day this year. Ian Davies expressed the support of eBird staff: “It is very exciting to hear how much you'll be promoting and getting behind GBD2016. It is efforts like yours that will make this event exciting and truly global,” he stated.
The Global Big Day in Arizona will be organized in the same way as the NAMC. Each county has a coordinator who recruits participants and assigns teams to areas within the county. But instead of providing tally sheets to the teams, the count information will be submitted directly to eBird—where the data will be available on a county basis. Some volunteers may need help submitting data to eBird and the county coordinators will provide assistance. Although the count focuses on counting the number of all birds, including resident and migrant species, it is also a great opportunity to find unusual and unexpected birds; nearly every year some are found. We hope you will join the count this year. For results of annual NAMC counts in Arizona for the past 12 years, or if interested in participating and contacting one of the county coordinators, please visit For the county-by-county tallies of GBD2015, go to  and enter the county or state of your choice.
By Doug Jenness
Gale Monson, considered to be the father of modern Arizona field ornithology, was the focus of two presentations at the Fourth Tri-National Symposium, “Converging Trails: Past, Present, and Future of the Sonoran Desert.” At the gathering in Ajo 7-10 March, Richard Glinski, editor of The Raptors of Arizona, described Monson's life and contributions to the study of birds in Arizona. In addition to being one of the authors of Birds of Arizona (1964) and the Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Arizona (1981), Monson was a skilled observer with an amazing ability to record notes on what he saw. “He left 178 pounds of journal notes,” Glinski reported. He urged participants to read Counting Birds with Gale Monson, edited by himself and Bill Broyles. This is a collection of reminiscences by people who knew and worked with Monson that includes some of Monson's notes. Seven participants purchased copies of the book.
David Griffin, of Griffin Biological Services and the University of Arizona, reported on a project to transfer Monson's Arizona bird sightings between 1947 and 1962 into eBird. “The sightings, with dates and locations, are currently on 3" x 5" note cards,” he said. “They are being carefully placed in a database by volunteers from Tucson Audubon Society.” So far, 25 percent have been completed, and when this is done the entire database will be placed on eBird and available to everyone.
During the session, participants learned about the Gale Monson Research Grants sponsored by the Arizona Field Ornithologists, and printed flyers describing the grants and how to apply for them were distributed. Up to $2,000 in grants are available this year.
Gale Monson Poster at Tri-National Symposium, Ajo  Photo/Doug Jenness
Felipe Guerrero
Field Expeditions Chair
We’re pleased to have Felipe Guerrero serving on the AZFO Board. Felipe grew up in Northern Virginia, where he developed an appreciation of birds and the outdoors. He came to Arizona in 2006 to attend Prescott College, where he majored in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Natural History and Ecology. He held field biologist positions in several states around the country before returning to Arizona to earn an M.A. in Science Teaching at Northern Arizona University. Felipe is the Education Coordinator at the Highlands Center for Natural History, serves on the Prescott Audubon Society board of directors, and is an avid birder. He lives in Prescott.
Sabine Deviche
AZFO Journal Designer
Sabine Deviche grew up in Alaska before moving with her family to Arizona, where she has lived for the past 17 years. Being equally passionate about both art and science, she graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Drawing and a minor in Biology. She worked for the ASU School of Life Sciences graphic department for almost 10 years before starting her own graphic design business. Sabine uses her artistic skills in combination with her knowledge of biology to create beautiful illustrations, designs, and websites that help scientists and educators share their knowledge. She also enjoys traveling, hiking, and taking close-up photos of plants and insects.
16 January 2016
By Troy Corman
The 11th year of the Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Survey was conducted by 73 surveyors this past January. Over 72,000 individual waterbirds of 62 species were counted. While this was lower than last year’s exceptional record high of >76,000 birds, it was the second highest total. Although birds were surveyed at urban lakes and ponds in 26 cities and towns which encompass the greater Phoenix area, approximately 43 percent of all birds counted were from within the city limits of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Chandler.
Of course the most abundant species by far were the nearly 23,000 American Wigeon, the second highest total ever. Among them was a record high of five Eurasian Wigeon—returning individuals found in Glendale and Queen Creek, plus one discovered in Surprise and two together in Gold Canyon. Other winter rarities included a Semipalmated Plover in Glendale and a California Gull in Tempe, both first count records. The only Horned Grebe was noted in Litchfield Park, and a record high of eight Cackling Geese were picked out of the masses of nearly 5,000 Canada Geese. The Neotropic Cormorant population continues to increase, with a record high 3,354 individuals compared to only 536 Double-crested Cormorants. So the former outnumbered the latter at over a six to one ratio.
I want to thank the dedicated veteran and new surveyors for another successful count. I look forward to what next January’s count reveals.

22-24 April 2016
The Petrified Forest National Park, now 140,000 acres in size, lies within Apache and Navajo counties. The park contains one of the largest short grass prairie habitats in the state, 13 miles of riparian habitat along the Puerco River, extensive badlands, and one of the largest deposits of petrified wood in the world. After Congress approved a boundary expansion in 2004 that more than doubled the authorized boundaries of the park, the park has been slowly acquiring the land from government transfers and willing private sellers. These newly acquired areas have never been systematically surveyed for avifauna (or most other biota). Baseline bird data for the original park was obtained in 1990, and grassland bird surveys are conducted there each spring. This weekend, AZFO teams will survey the newer riparian areas, grasslands, and cattle tanks, where we will gather important spring species and distribution information. The surveys will be in the backcountry, an area currently not open to the general public. We will camp inside the park. Leader: Andy Bridges, National Park Service, at
Red-naped Sapsucker – 25 Mar 2016 Petrified Forest National Park.  Photo/Andy Bridges
29 April – 1 May 2016
Although Bendire's Thrasher populations are thriving in Arizona, declines are occurring in neighboring states. Further study is needed to better understand this species of concern. This is your chance as a citizen scientist to assist in point count surveys and nest searching. The goal of this expedition is to locate Bendire's Thrashers, band them where possible, and collect valuable data. We will be surveying in the Butler Valley north of the Harcuvar Mountains near Wenden, La Paz County, and in the Joshua Tree Important Bird Area near Wikieup, Mohave County. Training will be provided for point counts and nest detection. We will be dry camping near the survey sites. You and a friend are welcome to join us for all or part of the weekend. If you are interested in helping with point count surveys for Bendire's Thrashers but are unable to attend this expedition, there are opportunities to do point count surveys in other parts of the state through 15 June. Leader: Chrissy Kondrat-Smith, Arizona Game & Fish Department, at 
June 2016
For the first time ever, Elegant Trogon surveys will be undertaken in the Galiuro Mountains, Graham County. This expedition will involve backpacking and be physically demanding. The expedition is tentatively scheduled for the first weekend in June. Contact: Jennie MacFarland, Tucson Audubon Society, at
By Jennie MacFarland
Bendire’s Thrasher is found in portions of the Southwest, either as a breeding species or resident (see accompanying map). Details of their distribution are poorly understood and documented, however, and there is growing concern for this species across portions of its range. Bendire’s Thrasher survey sites have been established across Arizona, and volunteers are needed to help conduct surveys now through 15 June. You would review a training video, adopt a route with three point locations, and survey the route on two mornings of your choice. The second morning of surveying is necessary only if you find a Bendire's Thrasher during the first visit.
For more information on the project and a map of available routes, please visit; click the link on the home page for the Bendire's Thrasher page. This page contains background information, links to online maps of the routes, and a link to officially sign up as part of the volunteer crew. Training videos, downloadable data forms, and other materials are also available there. These surveys are jointly coordinated by Jennie MacFarland, Tucson Audubon Society ( and Chrissy Kondrat-Smith, Arizona Game and Fish Department (
Bendire’s Thrasher Range
Map/The Birds of North America Online, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
By Jennie MacFarland
There is an abundance of evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, that the ecological influence of tropical Mexico has grown in Southeast Arizona over the past century. Mammals such as Javelina and White-nosed Coati have extended their range out of the tropics into southern Arizona as part of this larger ecological system expansion. This expansion continues today, with the birding community noting the recent increase in prevalence of Gray Hawks and rarities in general--including the first ever U.S. nesting record of Tufted Flycatcher this past spring. Elegant Trogons are also part of this story, with their U.S. range expanding over the past century. This change has been tracked with mainly anecdotal evidence and isolated collecting.
To further our understanding of how many Elegant Trogons are present in the U.S., organized surveys have been ongoing in the Chiricahua and Huachuca mountains. Rick Taylor has coordinated these efforts for many years. Beginning in 2013, the Tucson Audubon Society and I have assisted Rick and helped expand the surveys to three more mountain ranges. The new areas we surveyed the past three years are the Atascosa Highlands, Patagonia Mountains and Santa Rita Mountains. This year, we are adding another range where Elegant Trogons have been recently reported--the Galiuro Mountains. If you are interested in helping with any Elegant Trogon surveys in 2016, please visit
Elegant Trogon – 25 May 2014, Patagonia Mountains, Santa Cruz Co.
Photo/Laurens Halsey
21-23 October 2016
Please join us this October to explore Arizona’s “West Coast” at our 10th annual state meeting in Yuma.  We will be exploring underbirded locations in the area and learning about ongoing research on the status, behavior, and distribution of Arizona birds.  Arrangements with our venue are nearly finalized and will be posted to the AZFO website by the end of March.  Look also for a Call for Papers and Posters. 
Details, as they become available, can be found here:

22-24 Apr 2016—
AZFO Field Expedition
Petrified Forest National Park
Leader: Andy Bridges
29 Apr–1 May 2016—
AZFO Field Expedition
Bendire’s Thrasher surveys,
Wenden and Wikieup areas
Leader: Chrissy Kondrat-Smith
8 May 2016—
Elegant Trogon survey,
Atascosa Mountains
Contact: Jennie MacFarland
14 May 2016—
Global Big Day in Arizona
Coordinator: Doug Jenness
21-22 May 2016—
Elegant Trogon surveys,
Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains
Contact: Jennie MacFarland
28-29 May 2016—
Elegant Trogon surveys,
Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains
Contact: Jennie MacFarland
3-5 Jun 2016—
(tentative dates)
AZFO Field Expedition
Elegant Trogon surveys,
Galiuro Mountains
Contact: Jennie MacFarland
21-23 Oct 2016—
AZFO Annual Meeting, Yuma
(see website for details)

     Kurt Radamaker
     Cave Creek AZ
Vice President
     Jennifer MacFarland
     Tucson AZ
Membership Secretary
     Kurt Licence
     Phoenix AZ
Recording Secretary
     Carol Beardmore
     Phoenix AZ
     Doug Jenness
     Catalina AZ
Board Members
     Andy Bridges
     Petrified Forest NP AZ
     Felipe Guerrero
     Prescott AZ
     Anne Pellegrini
     Flagstaff AZ
     Walter Thurber
     Scottsdale AZ
Appointed Board Member
Editor, The Journal of Arizona Ornithology
     Pierre Deviche
     Phoenix AZ
     Sabine Deviche-Design
     Liège BE
     Walter Thurber-Editor
     Scottsdale AZ
     Andy Bridges-Design
     Petrified Forest Natl Park AZ
Field Expeditions
     Felipe Guerrero
     Prescott AZ
Photo Documentation Editors
     Lauren Harter
     Lake Havasu City AZ
     David Vander Pluym
     Lake Havasu City AZ
     Kurt Radamaker-Developer
     Cave Creek AZ
     Edwin Juarez-Support
     Phoenix AZ
Eurasian Wigeon – 17 Jan 2016 Dos Lagos Park, Glendale.  Photo/Troy Corman
Lesser Yellowlegs – 16 Jan 2016 Gilbert Water Ranch.  Photo/Marceline VandeWater
Foraging Neotropic Cormorants – 1 Aug 2014 Chandler, AZ.  Photo/Troy Corman
Neotropic Cormorant Colony – 1 Aug 2014 Chandler, AZ.  Photo/Troy Corman
Copyright © 2016 Arizona Field Ornithologists. All rights reserved.

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